Have you ever heard of îles flottantes?
This delicious dessert consists of a light meringue floating on a rich vanilla cream and topped with a drizzle of salted caramel!
I’m super excited to finally release this recipe! It’s AH-mazing tastewise, dairy-free, and egg-free! Definitely a dessert like no other!
WHAT IS AN ILE FLOTTANTE
Île Flottante, also called “Oeufs à la neige” (Eggs in snow), is probably one of the most popular French desserts!
This simple dessert consists of a rich vanilla-infused cream topped with whipped egg whites and drizzled with a salty caramel sauce. The whipped egg whites float on top of the vanilla cream, hence the name “Île Flottante,” which translates to the floating island. It’s a light, airy, and not overly sweet dessert.
While not mandatory, îles flottantes are also often topped with toasted slivered almonds. With that being said, let’s make a vegan version!
HOW TO MAKE AN ILE FLOTTANTE
Perfecting this recipe took a while, but the results are definitely worth it! The whole recipe is easy and requires basic ingredients. There are 3 different preparations. Each one can be made one day ahead with no issue.
VANILLA CREAM (Crème anglaise)
It starts with the vanilla cream that is prepared with plant-based milk, vanilla, maple syrup (or agave), and cornstarch to thicken it just slightly. This dessert is served cold. That’s why you want to refrigerate the vanilla cream for at least 6 hours before serving.
Sugar is heated until it turns golden brown and then deglazed with a couple of tablespoons of water. This will create a thick caramel syrup that we will then drizzle over the whipped aquafaba.
Traditionally, the whipped egg whites are steamed or microwave until cooked but still very light. Unfortunately, this technique doesn’t work with aquafaba. It disintegrates when steamed and doesn’t firm up when baked. After several unsuccessful tests, I finally reached the perfect texture!
The secret lies in a combination of coconut cream and agar that is added to the whipped aquafaba. It helps firm up the aquafaba just enough and yields the perfect texture (and yes, it floats)! The result is incredibly close to the real thing!
Once combined, transfer to ramekins or a larger bowl and let it set in the refrigerator. Magic! We have slightly firm but still super light iles flottantes!
Note: In the video, the agar coconut cream liquid is folded into the aquafaba using a spatula. I actually recommend whipping with the stand mixer for 10-15 seconds instead for a better and more even result.
Can you make this dessert refined sugar-free? The short answer is yes. You could use either coconut sugar or maple syrup to sweeten the whipped aquafaba. The only issue is that it will change a little bit the flavor and the color. You won’t get a perfectly white “island.”
Regarding the caramel, it’s also possible to make it refined sugar-free using a combination of maple syrup and coconut sugar. You can check out how to make vegan caramel in this Vegan Creme Caramel recipe. Another alternative for the caramel is to use coconut syrup; the taste will be different, but it’s still delicious!
To dress this dessert, divide the vanilla cream between serving bowls, add scooped aquafaba, drizzle with the caramel syrup, and top with toasted slivered almonds!
It is light, sweet and salty, and the combination of caramel and vanilla? Dreamy!
I hope you will love this French-inspired dessert! It’s unique and surprisingly close to the authentic version! The balance of the smooth vanilla cream with the airy aquafaba and the salty caramel is just magical!
Let me know in the comments if you try this recipe!
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Vanilla Cream (Crème Anglaise)
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp water
Vanilla Cream (Crème Anglaise)
- Add the almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract (or seeds from a vanilla bean), cornstarch, and vegan butter if using, to a saucepan. Whisk to dissolve the cornstarch.
- Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it comes to a boil and starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. The cream will just slightly thicken, that is normal. You still want it pourable and liquid.
- Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and let it cool at room temperature before transferring to the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Note: if a skin forms on top, remove using a spoon or strain the cream through a fine mesh sieve.
- Add the sugar, salt, and one tablespoon of water to a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Continue cooking and let it boil for 1-2 minutes without stirring until it gets a golden brown color. Keep an eye on it as you don't want the caramel to burn, it should have the color of a dark amber maple syrup.
- As soon as it gets a golden brown color, remove it from the heat and immediately pour in 2 tablespoons of water into the saucepan. Be careful and stand back a little bit, as it will steam and sputter.
- Next, place the saucepan back over the stove, and cook for about 30 seconds, or until the caramel has fully dissolved into the water. Remove from heat and let it cool completely. The caramel will thicken as it cools down.
- Place the aquafaba in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Whip the aquafaba to soft peaks; it will take about 3-5 minutes. Add the sugar and whip for another 2-3 minutes, or until it reaches stiff peaks.
- Add the agar agar and water to a saucepan and whisk to dissolve it.
- Add the coconut cream and heat over medium heat, constantly whisking, until it starts to boil. Remove from heat and let it cool for 2 minutes.
- Pour the warm coconut cream into the whipped aquafaba and whip for another 10-15 seconds, or until combined. The aquafaba will lose its fluffiness and become more liquid. That's totally normal.
- Transfer the aquafaba mixture to a deep bowl and refrigerate for 2-4 hours or until it has set.
- To assemble: divide the vanilla cream between 3 serving bowls. Scoop out about 1/2 cup of the aquafaba meringue using a spoon and place it on top of the vanilla cream. Drizzle with the caramel syrup and top with slivered almonds!
- Each preparation (vanilla cream, caramel syrup, and aquafaba meringue) will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Assemble just before serving.
About the Author
Thomas Pagot is the founder, photographer, and recipe developer behind Full of Plants. He created the blog in 2016 as a personal cookbook for vegan recipes. Through years of recipe development, Thomas has successfully grown Full of Plants into a trusted resource for plant-based recipes.